Every parent wants his child to be happy and achieve success during her lifetime. Giving your little one a distinguished name is a great way to put her on the right path from the very beginning. You might not realize it, but certain names are more common among geniuses than others, meaning you can select a name that links him to some of the world’s most brilliant minds.
Tracking down the names of the smartest people who ever lived is a huge undertaking, and with a baby on the way you don’t have time for that, so MooseRoots did it for you. We gathered 14,750 names of notable philosophers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, inventors, artists, composers, Nobel laureates and MacArthur fellows and identified the most common first names among them.
It’s much easier to climb the ranks of the elite when you have a bit of a head start. Prepare your child for greatness by giving him a name that has been borne by many accomplished people.
Note: Because female names are underrepresented, we split the list into halves that feature the most common male genius names, and the most common female genius names. Many names saw popularity spikes several decades ago.
Genius Count: 88
Elizabeth is of English and Swiss origin and was made popular by Queen Elizabeth I of England. It was the 14th most popular name for baby girls born in the U.S. during 2014, with 9,492 given the name.
In 2013, it was the 39th most common female name in England and Wales, and in 2014 it ranked 39th in New Zealand, 72nd in Ireland and 86th in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Genius Count: 140
More than 100 years ago in the 1880s, Mary was the most common female name in the U.S., but it has since seen a slow decline in popularity. In 2014, it was the 120th most popular name, with 2,611 baby girls named Mary.
Mary is of Greek origin and was the name of the mother of Jesus Christ, making it very common among early Christians and in every European country during the Middle Ages.
Genius Count: 91
Joseph is the English form of the Biblical Hebrew name Yosef, meaning “(God) shall add (another son).” The name has English, French and Hebrew origins and was the 20th most common name for male newborns in the U.S. in 2014.
It is also popular internationally, making the top 200 lists in England and Wales in 2013, and in Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand and Northern Ireland in 2014.
Genius Count: 100
Peter means “rock, stone” and has English and Greek origins. The name has been common since the Middle Ages and ranked No. 204 for all baby boys born in the U.S. in 2014.
In 2014, it also ranked 74th in New Zealand, 78th in Ireland, 92nd in Northern Ireland, 112th in Scotland and 122nd in Norway.
Genius Count: 109
This English, French and German name means “twin” and has always been very popular with Christians. Over the last decade it has slowly declined in popularity, ranking 54th for all male newborns in 2014, which is a sharp decline from the 1940s, when it was the eighth most common name.
Thomas is also prevalent in many other countries and, in 2014, it was the 17th most popular name for baby boys in Ireland, 25th in Scotland, ninth in New Zealand, 10th in Northern Ireland and 81st in Norway.
Genius Count: 113
Paul is a male name that means “small.” It is of English, Estonian, French, German and Swedish origin and was the 201st most popular name for baby boys in the U.S. in 2014. The name was most common in the 1920s, when it had an average rank of 13, but has seen a significant decline in popularity over the last decade.
Genius Count: 128
In 2014, 2,988 male newborns in the U.S. were named George, earning it a rank of 134. The name has English, Georgian, Greek and Romanian origins and means “Earth, farmer.”
George is also popular in many other countries and, in recent years, it has made the top 200 lists in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Genius Count: 128
A total of 130 baby boys in the U.S. were given the German name Johann in 2014. Despite its uncommon nature, the vernacular form of Johannes is currently more popular than it has ever been.
Genius Count: 129
At its peak popularity in the 1930s, Richard was the fifth most common name for male newborns in the U.S. Since then, it has sharply declined in popularity, earning the rank of 141 in 2014, with 2,857 baby boys given the name.
This Czech, English, French and German name means “hardy, power, strong.”
Genius Count: 131
James has English and Hebrew origins and was the name of two of Christ’s disciples in the New Testament. It has maintained steady popularity for decades and was the ninth most common name for male newborns in the U.S. during 2014.
In recent years James also made the top 200 lists in Ireland, England and Wales, Scotland, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, and Sweden.
Genius Count: 132
The name David means “darling” and is of English, French, Hebrew and Romanian origin. In 2014, a total of 12,078 Davids were born in the U.S., making it the 18th most common name for baby boys.
David is also a popular name in other countries and, in 2014, it made the top 200 list in Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Spain, Norway and Sweden.
Genius Count: 148
This name has English and French origins and means “free man.” In 2014, it ranked 51st for baby boys, with 7,269 named Charles.
It is also popular internationally, making the top 200 lists in Belgium, England and Wales, Scotland, New Zealand, and Northern Ireland in recent years.
Genius Count: 201
William means “desire, helmet, protection, will.” It is of English origin and was the fifth most popular name for male newborns in the U.S. during 2014, with a total of 16,687 named William.
In 2014, it was the most common male name in Norway and Sweden, the 50th most popular in Ireland, 35th in Scotland, 17th in New Zealand, and 47th in Northern Ireland.
Genius Count: 220
Robert was the 61st most popular name for male newborns in the U.S. during 2014. The name means “bright, fame, famous” and is of French, German, Germanic and Romanian origin.
It is also very common internationally, making the top 200 lists in Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, Northern Ireland and Iceland in 2014.
Genius Count: 352
John has English, Greek and Hebrew origins and has been the most consistently popular of all Christian names in its various forms in different languages. It is currently trending slightly down, but still ranked 26th for male newborns in the U.S. in 2014.
The name made the top 200 lists in England and Wales in 2013 and in Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, and Sweden in 2014.